HeavyDuty Antenna tracker


Time to start build next version of antenna trackers. As antennas are getting bigger and bigger we planned to make one heavyduty antenna tracker that can turn 2kg antenna clusters. 

Basic tech:

  • 360 yaw with 1 degree accuracy
  • -5 - 90 degree tilt control 
  • Accelerometer measurement for X/Y and Z axis
  • Compass for accurate "heading" measurement
  • LCD display and control keyboards for generic configuration
  • DC motor control for both Yaw and Tilt axis 
  • Standalone battery supply, with 3-4S battery

Initial plan is to make one tracker with strong DC motors, future versions might have stepping motors. Main difference between stepping and DC motors is that steppers needs to have constant current running on their coils to keep it not moving and when you run from batteries that can be a problematic. So DC motor with gearboxes were chosen to the task.

Also to speed up development belt/pulley system was chosen to turn things


Tilt axis will have small IMU to measure tilt axis angles. Later it can be used to measure level of whole antenna tracker system. Yaw will be measured with small compass board. 

Software to run motors and IMU is already working and how we are doing mechatronics for whole system.

Base electronics will be based on ArduStation mega and jD-IOBoard.

Tracker listens MAVLink data and calculates from that it's yaw heading and antenna tilt angles. 

Do we have support for Mission Planner type connection has not yet been decided but allowing direct telemetry modem and/or USB connection would not be bad idea either. 


Jani / jDrones

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  • Jani, will your ASM (antenna tracker) code be open source or closed? This is crucial point for me. Just dont look for some insinuation in my question - both models has pros and cons. I just want to know what model will you choose.
    IMHO open source FW is much more reliable and because i can read the sources i know what's going on inside (i'm too SW developer) and can fix the problems at my workbench, anyway it's just my opinion.
  • Developer

    palo, no there are no updates for older ASM code as big tracker is based on our APM architecture. This way we can ensure better compatibility on future releases.

  • Jani, are there some updates of antenna tracker's code (i mean code of ASM because didn't see any changes in github since 2013)
  • Developer

    It's not dead. We just been really busy on other development projects and tracker has been on background. It's under development and hopefully can be released soon enough. Now we are on our end-of-the-year vacation. Development continues on 5th of Jan 2015.

    On January will we get our last set of hardware and final tuning starts before production runs.

    Here are few development pictures I took last week.




    Jani / jDrones

    jDrones, R/C UAVs and More....
    Manufacturer of ArduCopter frames and parts. Custom airframe manufacturing, Custom design services for all your R/C UAV needs
  • For me too.

  • Jani, is this project already death?
    If so, it's really pitty because it was soo promising. At least form me ;-).
  • Any developments?

  • Hi Palo, not sure what you are asking but

    I'm using HITEC 645MG unmodified with this    

    so I'm not on continuous pan. 

  • Jean-Marie,

    does your changes involve also continuous pan, because Jani claimed the heavy duty A tracker will be on slipring...

  • Thanks Jani

    I've made a lot of MODs on Your version, Colin's version and Heino Pull.

    - I've add Diversity based on cheap's video switch on analog 1 & 2 and visual bar on main screen.

    - Moreover, I've make correction to distance and altitude calcs with Heino Pull's ardustation version.

    I've check throughout mission planner/Mavlink stream and X-plane and everything seems to be ok now (lat/lon/alt/dist/speed veracity and units)

    I'm using RMRC kit with Hitec 645 MG.

    - I've changed fonts for a smaller one (even if it's not perfect : Wendy 3x5)

    - I've add VarSpeedServo for smooth pan and tilt instead of Servo library.

    - some offset for alt 

    So, lot of work ! and before to work on magnetometer, I wanted to know where are you in dev. 

    I need to check the strange 'radar' behavior on ASM and I will push you my version if you want to test it.

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